Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This fic was written for FictionAlley's February, 2007 OTP challenge. Prompt: Mundungus Fletcher has schnoogled Nicolas Flamel. Beta read and Britpicked by the BeST team.
Dung Schnoogles Nic: Death Ensues
Manipulative!Dumbledore Strikes Again
Mundungus Fletcher slunk through the lobby of Gringotts' Diagon Alley branch, his skin crawling under the baleful glares of the watch-goblins. It had always given him the creeps, this place. The creeps and itchy fingers. It was ironic, wasn't it, he thought, him actually entering a bank with honest intentions. Well, not entirely honest. And not his intentions at all, come to that.
It had been easy -- too easy, that was certain, for such a valuable bauble. Blasted highbrows who put so much store in fancy charms for protection and didn't take into account the feather-light fingers of those such as himself. He didn't have any use for the trinket himself, nor did he particularly wish the old man he'd taken it from any ill. But it was clear that the fellow was no longer capable of keeping the item safe, and so he'd had to be relieved of it.
Mundungus pulled out a bundle of grungy rags and shoved it toward the goblin teller on duty.
"I'd like to make a deposit," he said in his gravelly voice. "Vault 713."
"Six hundred years I kept it safe, and now this... Am I getting old, Albus?" Nicolas Flamel gripped the arms of his chair with bone-thin fingers and spoke with a voice that was as pale as his waxy skin. In his snowy white caftan, he seemed to be more than half ghost.
Albus Dumbledore's bright blue eyes crinkled up in a kind smile. "It could be that your time has simply come, my friend. Perhaps this is the fates' way of opening the door to the next great adventure...?"
Flamel's own smile was wistful. "Perhaps you are right. I supposed I'd forgotten that there is more to life than... well, than life."
"You've done quite a lot of good in yours, you and Perenelle."
Flamel sighed. "A drop on a hot stone, Albus, naught more than a drop. There is so much evil in this world, wrought by men... " He drifted off into his own thoughts, apparently mesmerized by the fire dancing in the grate before him. "I was taken by surprise yesterday," he suddenly said.
"Were you?" Dumbledore prompted politely.
"Man by the name of Fletcher, I believe. Rather hangdog appearance, bit scruffy. One of your Order?"
"I'm not sure if he identifies himself as such..." Dumbledore hedged. "More of a free-lancer, doesn't necessarily see eye-to-eye with the law -- but yes, I believe I know who you mean. Mundungus Fletcher." He nodded, encouraging his companion to continue.
"I was just coming out of the Bodleian when he came up and embraced me. Quite heartfelt. I didn't recognise him at first, but he must have noticed my discomfiture, for he quickly stepped back and apologised, introduced himself, and mumbled something about my having inspired him to get his life in order... being a great role-model for all philanthropists." Flamel's expression became soft. "If, through my work, I can have improved the quality of even one man's life, and caused him to realise his potential beyond that of daily drudgery, well, then, I say, let it be done."
"Hear, hear," echoed Dumbledore softly.
There was silence for a moment, and then Flamel commented in a hollow voice, "My greatest fear is that the Stone has been stolen for an evil purpose. Reassure me again, my friend. I cannot bear to think that my selfishness might be the cause of others' suffering." He turned his rheumy eyes on Dumbledore.
"I cannot know for certain, of course," Dumbledore said, placing his steepled index fingers against his chin, "but we are both agreed that with the protective magics which had been placed on it, none with a desire to harm you could have stolen the Stone from your person. You must have misplaced it, or allowed it to roll away in a moment of carelessness. The chances of anyone finding it who has any idea of its significance are vanishingly small. And I assure you that I will not rest until the Stone has been found and returned to you."
Flamel allowed himself another small smile. "Thank you, dear Albus. All the same, I think it is time for Perenelle and myself to put our affairs in order."
"He's still goin' to be able to get his potion, ain't he?" Mundungus asked as he slipped the small purse full of clinking coins into his waistcoat pocket. "The one that keeps him alive?"
"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Mundungus," Dumbledore replied with a regretful look, picking up his goblet of mead. "You see, the guardians and traps protecting it will be impassable. It would take the combined efforts of several very talented wizards to reach the Stone, and even then, a very clever trick of my own design will prevent anyone from taking it with the purpose of making another Elixir of Life. A variation of the charm that Mr. Flamel had on it, but much refined, of course. I daresay it will even be safe from you," he added with a wink.
Mundungus scowled. "So he's going to die. Him an' his missus."
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, that is true," he admitted, and finished off the golden liquid in one long draught.
"I don' like that much," Mundungus growled. "Takin' it off 'im to keep it away from You-Know-Who, that's one thing, but just lettin' 'im die... I don't know."
"If it will ease your conscience at all, he and I have discussed it, and we both agree that this is for the best."
"So 'e knows about it?" Mundungus was surprised. "Why'd you have me go to all that trouble, then, if 'e was goin' to give it to you in the first place?"
"He does not know where it is, and he was not ready to give it up until it was no longer in his possession. But he has made peace with the situation now and is quite happy to leave this stage of his existence. I believe he is even looking forward to it," Dumbledore said complacently, then stood and dropped two more coins onto the table.
"I shall contact you should I be needing your services again," he said, and moved off through the dingy tavern, fading away into the shadows.